Here's hoping everyone had a 'Drunken Viewing' on Sunday, because I'm not sure how anyone was expected to get through that one without a little help...
I have so many bad things to say right now I don't even know where to start. I think I'll try to start with the positives, just so I can leave everyone with a terrible taste in your mouth once this over, kind of like when you wake up in the morning after drinking a butt load of PBRs.
Gronk continues to be a highlight, rising up in the absence of Edelman. He didn't score, but 4 for 80 is a stat line I will take. The offensive PI call on him was a travesty, and if a play like that isn't allowed then there's no point in having the forward pass. That'd be like if Karl Anthony Towns posted up in the paint and the ref blew the whistle because posting up is now an offensive foul. There would be no point for centers to exist. Gronk needs to be able to run routes and initiate contact. Especially since every time he goes out for a pass he's got more hands grabbing at him than a bouquet tossed into a pack of bridesmaids.
Danny AmenBROla belongs in a god damn museum. It's insane how much I love this kid now. When he signed here I was hopeful, but Jules instantly established himself as the slot option, and Dola's injury history wasted no time rearing it's ugly head. I basically wrote him off as a bust signing right away. Since then he's been nothing short of a hero. All he does is make monster catches, including in both Super Bowls, all while taking pay cuts EVERY YEAR. He's a bright shining star in the galaxy known as The Patriot Way, and may he guide many future weary travelers to green turf pastures and Lombardi Trophies in the future.
He also got flagged for a brutal Offensive PI call, but had 6 for 42 including a massive 3rd and 3 conversion (where he got bent in half like a fucking flip phone) and the huge 4th and 1 tuddy. I was in a pretty fired up state as we were mounting our comeback, prone to extreme emotions, so know that I'd be lying to you if I said I kept it together when Dola held up that Jules banner. It's a gesture I've pictured multiple times in my day dreams before, and that head movie made my eyes rain, Simple Jack style.
Good to have Marcus Cannon back in the mix, just in time to be spun into the ground over and over by 85 year old (number approx.) Julius Peppers. I think if he got beat around the edge one or two more times we could have drilled for oil. Maybe then RKK could it to spread over the new turf and try to slow down mobile QBs.
Kidding aside, Cannon will be needed moving forward so I'm fine with him being a little rusty. And Solder played well. The line held their own, despite Tom getting drilled 7 times again on Sunday. It's becoming clear it's the deep passes that are putting him in harm's way, and it appears with the skill sets of our receivers this might be something we have to live with. I hope his muscles are pliable as fuck this year because he has signed up for 16 car crash Sundays with a 50 attempts/game cherry on top.
The Cookie Monster was back to being the Cookie Nonfactor. I'm so hard on him. I know this. I want him to be Antonio Brown and he isn't. No one is really. But 3 for 38 is assssss. I know he has elite speed but I was told he can run a full route tree. LET HIM DO THAT. They pushed him into the slot for the first time this year on Sunday, which I thought might open up the play calling. Spoiler alert, it didn't. But we need to figure out a way to get the ball in his hands. Tom's favorite receiver is the open one, so if Chef isn't getting the ball right now it's because he's not open. Do what you gotta do to open that door even if it means calling in Gandalf to say "Mellon." There has to be a way.
Tom is Tom. I barely have to include him in these because he does so little wrong. His accuracy was off a few times on Sunday, which I'm sure he would tell you is mechanics. All that matters is with the game on the line, Tom drove down and ripped of 14 points in about 8 minutes. If we got the ball back there was no doubt we were winning in regulation. That's just who is. Sadly, he's going to have to hang 70 on the Bucs on Thursday if we're going to win because the defense certainly isn't going to be fixed by then.
Which brings me to the sour portion of our ramblings. WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING. No one was good. No one.
The linebacking situation is a joke. Van Noy played every snap again and was doing his patented move of being a half step too late to everything. I'm shocked he's able to catch the team plane on road games. I picture him showing up at Logan right as the plane takes off and then clapping his hands together with that "shoot, so close" routine he pulls after every check down conversion that happens in his eye ball.
Roberts stayed locked into that two spot, but when he went out we had Marquis Flowers fill in, because, ya know, David Harris WAS INACTIVE. Mike Reiss is saying if Roberts misses time maybe it will get Harris back on the game day roster. Lolololol. Yay! Maybe he can ride pine in uniform while the special teams bum we traded the Bengals a 7th round pick for gets his reps. New York called Harris the glue that held their defense together. I'm about ready to take Harris behind the shed and turn him into glue.
The one true king of HIGHTOWER returned and played limited snaps. It was so great to see him out there even though he didn't help that much yet. However his electric guitar celebration after his 4th quarter sack was perfect execution. It's been too long since I last picked up my guitar hero ax but from my rusty eyes it looked like Cliffs of Dover? And trust me he was playing with the orange button.
My BOY Trey Flowers and Deatrich Wise are the best players on the team not named Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. They are the only ones who can get pressure and I'm so excited for them to keep developing. Trey's forced fumble was a picture perfect punch on the football when he was being blocked out of the gap, which should have saved the game. And Wise's sack on third down with 2 minutes left should have won the game. Both games balls go to these guys anyway for being the only players on the defense who want to win football games. They are basically our version of the NFL Blitz keep it close feature, because without them a few of these games could have gotten out of hand real fast.
The d line is perplexing too. Malcom Brown is getting the most reps of anyone, which is good considering he was our first round pick a few years ago, but can anyone say they are overly thrilled with him?? I don't need him to be Wilfork but I'd like maybe 2/3 Vince, so he better start practicing his field goal kicking and meat smoking.
Alan Branch played 12 snaps out of 63 on defense, furthering his free fall into irrelevancy. Which is is just lovely. That's exactly what I wanted from our "most consistent" lineman from 2016. Hope you're enjoying that new contract big guy. And the Adam Butler flash in the pan might have run it's course. He played 11 snaps total. Fun while it lasted kid.
Scientists say we don't fully understand black holes, and that maybe we never will, but I need the top minds on earth hard at work trying to crack the physics behind the black hole that is the Patriots Secondary.
Chung has almost been benched after his rough game against the Saints. He used to play every snap, and now those reps are going to Duron Harmon. Chung still gets in there, he played 34 snaps, but that isn't going to cut it. These guys have verrrrrry specific roles and jobs on this team. That's how Bill works. He knows how best to utilize these guys. If they can't even get it done when they are in a system tailored to their exact skill set I don't know what to tell them.
Dev is still getting beat on some plays that I think he used to cover, but I have 180'd on my Dev stance after yesterday. I think he doesn't trust anyone he's playing with out there. For good reason. And now he's worrying about what other guys are doing and trying to cover for them instead of just DOING HIS JOB. That's why he seems slow and out of position at times. I'm not saying he isn't to blame, he is. But I now think it's strictly because he can't trust the unit.
The KC tuddy up the right sideline in week 1 that I've spent the last month blaming on Dev instead of Gilmore? Hand up on that one. I was wrong. No chonce that wasn't Gilmore's zone in quarters coverage. The way he's Britta'd up coverages since then leaves me no choice but to doubt him here.
Gilmore got benched to start the second half on Sunday, in place of Eric Rowe, who immediately re-injured his groin and left the game. I'm so curious about how many snaps Gilmore would have played if Rowe hadn't gone out. It would have given us a better sense of just how mad the coaching staff was with him.
Here's what I'm seeing. No one knows what the hell they are doing back there. People are pointing fingers, but the facts remain that everyone is out of position. This defense gave up 8 more explosive plays on Sunday, bringing their total to 24 surrendered through 4 games. They gave up 59 all of last year for reference. Opponents are running free all over the field. Now Gilmore is the only new guy here. Harmon, Dev, and Butler know the plays front to back. Rowe is only a second year Pat, but the way the coaches were showering his development with praise during camp makes me think he's well versed as well. So for me it's gotta be Gilmore. It's not an ability thing. I've said multiples times in this space, when he's in man coverage it feels like opposing QBs aren't even looking at him. It's all about knowing the plays, because in this league if you get out of position on a breakdown you get beat. And beat badly. And we are having a handful of breakdowns per game. Its one hundo p unacceptable.
Remember that mic'd up clip of Bill talking with Tom on the Saints sideline when we are getting ethered in 2009? Bill says "I just can't get these guys to play the way I want them to." That's my biggest fear about this defense (and season, because the D will decide our fate.) I know the talent is there. So do they. But so far the coaching staff hasn't been able to get through to the guys. Sometimes it's not the coaches fault. Players can tune out for whatever reason and then there's nothing you can do. I spent last night cooling down, but the secret I don't want to talk about at parties is that I'm afraid something is poisoned in the locker room. Traditionally, in a sport so built on team and unity, that can be a black mark that wont scrub out. You have to be a family, otherwise this thing doesn't get done. I don't know if it's Malcolm still mad he didn't get paid. Or if it's Gilmore being entitled with his big contract. Or something else that I'm not privy to. But this is starting to have the feel that this team is sick from the inside, and no amount of Tom Brady spirals can cure it.
In his weekly Monday morning conference call on EEI Tommy had a few words about the refs. “They called it pretty tight on us yesterday. I watched the film a bunch of times and they got the calls. We didn’t get them. I don’t know what to say. I think [Rob Gronkowski] is doing what he’s got to do to get open, there was such minimal contact. It is what it is. We didn’t get it. We overcame that one. The one to Danny [Amendola] we didn’t overcome, he was trying to get across the guy’s face and the guy kind of contacts him and Danny is trying to shed him and run his route. I don’t know [if] they can do more than that. Some weeks you get those calls, some weeks you don’t. We just didn’t get them yesterday. Still, we’re not making any excuses. We didn’t get the job done offensively, defensively, special teams. We just have to collectively do a better job to win these games.”
I know that doesn't sound scathing but when do you ever hear Tommy bitching about the refs post game? Never. He wasn't making excuses, but for him to even bring it up makes me think he is livid with how that game got called. The illegal hands to the face will get talked about the most. Those were such cheap calls, per everyone with eyes. Gilmore's hand barely grazed the face mask of the receiver. But the fact of the matter is they DID. Gilmore has got to know better, because his second one was the difference between 3-1 and 2-2. Championship plays, those were not. Despite everything that happened, this one really felt like it was stolen from us by the zebras. What is it with the refs when we play the Panthers?? That's two straight games they've thrown the other way. With friends like those, who needs enemies?
Hey Dwayne Allen. Nice 9 snaps and a drop on a slightly under thrown ball. Go fuck yourself.